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Viewing entries tagged with 'nature'

Simple, complicated, complex – Branson is wrong!

Posted by Philip on 9 March 2015, 5:28 pm in , , , , , ,

This morning someone tweeted this quote from Richard Branson:

Richard makes four common mistakes:

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Entropy sucks

Posted by Philip on 17 March 2014, 7:18 pm in , , ,

decaying propertyIn the last two days my dishwasher, vacuum cleaner and hose have broken.

There are two explanations:

  1. Planned obsolescence
  2. The second law of thermal dynamics.

"Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time." (Wikipedia)

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HIV, AIDS, nature and humanity

Posted by Philip on 23 November 2012, 12:05 pm in , , , , ,

Disclaimer: The following post is my opinion and does not attempt to represent common views on the subject of HIV and AIDS. References to dates, facts or anything else concerning the AIDS epidemic have not been properly researched so may be incorrect. Feel free to offer corrections in the comments box. 

Getting to Zero banner

Nature is often inexpicable in her conduct. Who would have thought that, suddenly, sometime prior to 1981, a virus that developed in non-human primates would be transferred to humans and begin to infect and kill us through at least two of the most pleasurable activities known to us — sex and recreational intravenous drug use.

But if Nature is strange, humans are stranger. When the virus and related symptoms were first clinically observed, we quickly sought to find a name that implicated people who were affected. According to Wikipedia,

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Diversity and decay: it's not what you'd think

Posted by Philip on 14 July 2011, 2:26 pm in , , , , , , ,

There was so much I learnt in the recent retreat run by Sue Davidoff and Allan Kaplan of the Proteus Initiative. I want to share another amazing insight, this time about the nature of diversity itself (and when I say "nature" I mean both the phenomena of the physical world and the basic or inherent features of something).

One of the exercises we did was to go and observe plants that were growing and dying (or decaying). We were asked to observe them carefully and then sketch them. Obviously the latter action is not a forté of mine but observation doesn't require much dexterity and I made a discovery that literally left me reeling for a moment. Let me use these two pictures to demonstrate what I saw. Can you see it too?

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Congratulations, you’re wrong!

Posted by Philip on 30 April 2011, 4:08 pm in , , , , ,

photo of hand with thumb downThis year I’m heavily involved in some exciting new and creative social change projects. I’ve been running the inaugural “Be. Leadership” programme since February; I’m designing an online social change toolkit with the Ministry of Social Development as part of the NZ Government's Campaign to Improve Attitudes and Behaviours Towards Disabled People; and I’m a member of a Ministry of Health National Reference Group to support a new model of delivering disability support. To top it off I’m a judge of Arts Access Aotearoa’s Big 'A’ Awards and have a huge bound volume of 22 applications sitting on my desk, begging me to wade through it.

The common denominator in these things is that, not only are most of the projects themselves firsts, but they are all areas of work in which, to a large extent, I’ve never been involved before. Hence there is the huge likelihood that things will go wrong. That’s had me feeling slightly on edge.

As luck – or destiny depending on your frame of mind – would have it, I happened upon a fantastic TEDTalk a couple of weeks ago by Kathryn Schulz, entitled “On being wrong” (embedded below). Schultz confronts directly the human need to be right all the time, exposing it as a fundamental flaw in logic. She acknowledges that, though we often grudgingly admit we learn from our mistakes, we still feel bad, embarrassed, even a failure, when we are wrong.

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Coughing, sneezing, burping and farting

Posted by Philip on 8 March 2011, 4:21 pm in , , ,

So here's the thing: we've all done it. Held in that fart in the middle of a meeting, despite the discomfort of the wind staying trapped in your bloated bowel. Or desperately, hopefully, let it slip out surreptitiously, silently. But you know those are the smelly ones.

Wait 30-45 seconds for osmosis to set in.

Everyone looks around, knowingly, scathingly. You look particularly innocent, wondering if it would make you more or less likely a suspect if you say the obvious, "Ok, who dropped that?"

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A certain uncertainty

Posted by Philip on 1 March 2011, 9:53 am in , , ,

Most societies in the modern world invest a lot of time, money and importance in creating certainty*. Religious leaders preach about a certain god. Politicians debate over certain policy. Businesses plan for certain outcomes and profits. The media provides certain commentary. Accountants assure us of certain financial strategies.

Then Nature, in the form of weather, earthquakes and other events, says, "Just a second, let's get one thing straight. Nothing is certain."

We respond in shock, terror, disbelief and, sometimes, even outrage. How could this happen? What will we do? All our planning gone to waste. How dare our security be ripped from us, without warning, planning, consultation!

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